Chrysler: Yes, We'll Build A Few Electric And Hybrid Cars (We Have To)

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2012 Fiat 500 Electric/Elettra

2012 Fiat 500 Electric/Elettra

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Give Chrysler credit for consistency.

A company executive said yesterday that it would indeed build electric and hybrid vehicles, though "sparingly" and for the "right kinds of targeted applications."

The comment came from Bob Lee, Chrysler's vice president and head of engineering for engine and electrified propulsion, during a conference presentation at the Center for Automotive Research "Management Briefing Seminars" held outside Traverse City, Michigan.

Cheerfully plain-spoken Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said all along that its 2013 Fiat 500 Electric will lose money and is not a car Chrysler wants to build.

It's only being built in low volumes as a "compliance car" to meet requirements for sales of a certain number of zero-emission vehicles in the state of California.

And while the company plans to launch both a Chrysler 300 Hybrid sedan and a hybrid minivan, it is likely to focus more development effort on its upcoming diesel engine program.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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It will launch a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel next January that's expected to be one of two high-volume diesel passenger cars in the U.S. market, along with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

And that may not be Chrysler's only diesel offering; the company trademarked the "EcoDiesel" brand earlier this year.

It also has proposed that natural gas may be a possibility for use as an alternative fuel, though for now its only natural-gas offering is a bi-fuel version of its Ram 2500 Heavy-Duty pickup truck.

Any natural-gas passenger cars from Chrysler likely wouldn't arrive before 2017.

Lee's comments on electrification, reported by Bloomberg, indicate that Fiat-Chrysler is content to let other companies--Toyota and Honda in hybrids, Nissan in electric cars--take the lead and develop the market for such alternate technologies.

2013 Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup truck - natural-gas fuel system only

2013 Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup truck - natural-gas fuel system only

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Arguably, Chrysler feels it has more pressing and immediate needs.

Before it can incur the considerable expense of developing such technologies for mass production, which may take a decade or more, it has to make a success out of its 2013 Dodge Dart compact sedan, just now launching.

In other words, making sure the company can design, engineer, and sell competitive cars with regular engines and transmissions takes priority.

Hybrids and plug-ins? They'll be built "sparingly" (in low volumes) and "targeted" (meaning that you're not likely to see them in most Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Fiat dealerships any time soon).

Unless, perhaps, you live in California.


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Comments (6)
  1. I respect their approach. No point swinging for the fences if you are not steady on your feet.

    With the low volume of sales in hybrid and even lower in electrics, I don't think Chrysler is at risk of being left behind.

  2. Chrysler is smart to pursue complimentary technologies, such as natural gas and hydraulic hybrids on large vehicles - a space that the other major automakers have so far avoided applying any radical technologies (a hit 'em where they aint, strategy). Also, I have no problem with an automaker admitting to offering a mere compliance car, while they work on other approaches.

    @John Briggs, if Chrystler's forays into natural gas and hydraulic hybrids (which I think are fantastically viable approaches to large vehicles, like trucks, SUV's, vans and larger vehicles) does not take them as far as regulations demand, they ARE at risk of falling behind in necessary electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, BEV and fuel cell vehicle technologies.

  3. It is a smart approach. Battery and Electric technology will change in the next 2 decades. That is the only constant. Chyrsler can easily catch up when the technology starts to mature. Plus, Chrysler is never known for its cars...

  4. They may be" smart" on their cautious, wait-and-see approach, but that simply states that they are a company not committed to sustainable alternative fuels. This Johnny-come-lately would be the last company I would buy a car from.

  5. this is mike truszkowski i asking this with gas prisess going up thing about this the new high breeed elect car that recargses its self as you drive it now wood that be th new thing that wood get us off the gas and on the track to going green to the max ,thank you from mike trusZkowski at 1001 emerald in grand rapids come up with the recarg car that recages its self as yoyu drive it ,

  6. 1, Help stop the CARBON MONOXIDE that BAD
    2, Help stop the HYDROCARBONS. thats BAD

    1,it get its Electricy from the wind its going Throu,
    2. it Helps stop CARBON MONOXIDE (CO )4, And it Halps stop Oxides of NITROGEN (NOx )
    5,All so Helps stop Hydrocardons and oxides of nitrogen from GAS MOTERS,
    6.This would help protect the ENVIRONMENT that The Earth where we live,
    7,This Helps stop,Burning fossil fuels. Gust the sound of it.
    8. this Helps stop Gasoline and Diesel contributes such as air pollution (GHGs )
    9, this Helps stop Carbondioxide from burning fossil fuels
    10. this Helps stop The Green house Plan from Geting WORSE..
    11. With this new hybrid vehicle u

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